Crap, I'm out of paper.
The best-laid plans of mice and men...oh, well. Guess I'll be off on paper-quest first instead.
In other news, Ben does not appear to be sick so much as Sulking. He sleeps on the bed under the blanket, and gets huffy if you remove it. He's also jumpy. (He will come out, if no other cats are around, to cuddle with me, but the presence of anyone other than Angus sends him back under the bed. I get the definite impression he's hiding, not that he's seeking heat the way a sick cat would, as the Underbed is also an acceptable dwelling.) Kevin and I arranged ourselves in bed a few nights ago, working around the sullen intrablanket lump, and I finally said it.
"I think he got his ass kicked."
Kevin petted the grumpy lump. "I think you're right."
There's really only one individual in the house who could pummel Ben and live to tell about it. The two nearest cats in size are Angus and Smokey, and Angus loves Ben more than the air he breathes, and Smokey loves the whole world. Also, at "nearest in size" I mean "a smidge over half." It certainly wasn't Marv, the former patriarch, whom Ben has intimidated thoroughly and who now avoids Ben's bedroom haunt as containing too much drama.
And it wasn't the beagle, because the beagle is still alive and does not look as if he has stuck his face in a blender.
But Ben is afflicted with an odd feline chivalry and for whatever reason, doesn't beat up girl cats. Enter Sami. Sami is a medium sized black female, fairly aggressive towards other cats, (she worships Kevin) and she and Ben had a hissing relationship for quite awhile, which would always end with Ben backing down and slinking off.
My suspicion is that Sami finally hauled off and whupped his ass. In shame and humiliation, Ben has taken to lurking under the blankets and grumbling when disturbed. (It has to be unsettling for a beast used to hunting ninjas to be pummelled by a wee female cat of no particular ninjosity.)
There's now a sort of interestingly triangular dynamic--Ben intimidates Marv, Marv intimidates Sami, and Sami intimidates Ben. I'll give it another few days to settle out, and then I may get kitty pheremones or whatever, or just put Ben on drugs until he's happier with the world.